This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Are The Gender-Mainstreaming Efforts Being Made By The State Enough?

More from IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute

Gender Mainstreaming strategies have been adopted by the Indian states for about two decades. To critically analyze these efforts and discuss the way forward the Centre for Human Dignity and Development IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute and Centre for Development, Communication and Studies (CDECS), Jaipur organized a talk on “Critical Evaluation of Gender Mainstreaming Efforts by the State”, as part of its series on The State of Development Discourses #CohesiveDevelopment.

Binitha V Thampi Critical Evaluation of Gender Mainstreaming Efforts by the State 2

Prof Sunil Ray Former Director, A.N. Sinha Institute of Social Studies, Patna began the session by introducing the topic of discussion and encouraging the discussants to use the insights from the presentation to identify the underlying paradigms of change and go beyond the machine of reproduction of knowledge.

Dr. Binitha V Thampi Associate Professor of Development Studies, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Madras, Chennai started her presentation by contextualizing the concept of gender mainstreaming as part of the larger global women’s movement and its relationship to development throughout history.

History And Context

Various studies over the years have looked at the role that women played in economic development as well as how they were excluded from it. The exclusion was systematic and its particular manifestations and the responses of women varied by geography. While the first world was concerned with equity, and the second with peace, the third world was contending with development.

The Indian state’s approach to tackling gender inequality in the 1950s to the 1970s was that of welfare.

Women were seen as occupying a reproductive role in society and would-be recipients of development with no active engagement from their side. In the 1970s, equity became the prominent approach- inclusion and equal opportunities and rights became the focus, and laws like the Equal Remuneration Act in 1976 were passed.

By the 1980s, the global approach to mainstream gender moved on to efficiency. Welfare spending was reduced, coinciding with the stabilization and adjustment policies to combat the declining world economy, and new interventions like microenterprises, credit to women, and supplementary income generation programs were focused on by NGOs and governments.

The 1985 Third World Conference of Women in Nairobi brought the recognition that the needs of women could not be seen as uniform across the world, and there was a need to pay attention to environmental and debt issues which affected the lives and livelihoods of women too.

The Global South pointed out that the Women Integrated in Development (WID) approach followed before often involved women facing the brunt of both capitalism and patriarchy, and thus came the Women and Development (WAD) approach which noted that the structures of society were inequitable and the state had to intervene through affirmative action to combat these inequalities.

Empowerment gained importance and grassroots movements like the Grameen Bank and SEWA participated in the development.

The Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women ’79 was ratified by 186 countries in 1981 and provided a framework to deal with gender inequality. The discourse moved to question the idea of women as a universal category, the importance of intersectionality, and towards Queer studies and men and masculinity studies.

Male bias, rights, and capabilities being the basis for judging bias instead of endowments and preferences, rights, critiques of the household model in economics, care work, etc. were the major highlights to come out of this era. It was recognized that the development process could continue perpetuating inequalities and collective action was needed to create change.

Gender Mainstreaming And Efforts In Kerala

Presentation

Gender Mainstreaming involves assessing the gendered impact of policies at all levels. It brought out ideas of gender training, quotas for women in governance, gender budgeting, gender-friendly taxation, etc.

In Kerala, gender mainstreaming efforts were used since the 1990s and raised questions of workplace discrimination and sexual harassment. Affirmative action was put into place for women in local governance and women would acquire and develop the skills to run the office but struggled to free themselves of male domination within political parties.

Movements like Dalit feminism helped to bring attention to the marginalized and other women questioned the hegemony of the feminine and masculine conceptions.

In the 1990s with the advent of the empowerment approach, women’s organizations increased collaboration with the state and State Feminism emerged. Examples of the same include organizations like Kudumbashree, Mahila Samakya, and Gender Park. While these efforts did lead to induction of women into politics, women are still unable to access local political institutions and there remains a demarcation between governance and politics.

Kudumbashree became the face of state-supported civil societies and works with microenterprise and credit with over half the households in Kerala.

However, some problems that remain are the exclusion of marginalized groups from the program, an over-stretched state, and a narrowing of the anti-poverty agenda by managing poverty through women’s efforts.

Kerala’s Women Component Plan (WCP) emerged as a gender budgeting tool that set up funds and local gender-specific need-identification. Gender Training has also played a significant role in empowerment. It is conducted out of training workshops run by state-level institutions and women’s organizations.

These efforts carry the underlying assumptions that a more equal society can be achieved through these non-confrontational strategies and that the trainers embody empowerment and are themselves unaffected by the patriarchy. This is not a platform for the mutual exchange of knowledge and does not facilitate women to network across geographies and backgrounds to challenge patriarchy.

Rethinking State-led Gender Mainstreaming

Intersectionality and changing feminist politics need to be inculcated in gender mainstreaming efforts. Dr. Thampi gave examples of the Kiss of Love protest and the WCC calling out anti-women attitudes in the Malayam film industry to illustrate how feminist politics was happening outside of the state. She concluded that state-led gender mainstreaming had to be critically evaluated and reformed to help it facilitate broader solidarity among women.

Reflections And Questions

Dr Priyadarshini

Dr Anamika Priyadarshini Lead, Research, Sakshamaa: Initiative for What Works, Centre for Catalyzing Change commended Dr Thampi’s efforts to contextualise the discourse in so much detail and she had noticed a trend of depoliticisation, historicity, and decontextualisation in development and gender studies.

She pointed out that many efforts of gender mainstreaming ended up reinventing patriarchy through their work and that the state’s cooption of women’s movements was worrying when one could see falling rates of women’s labor participation.

Women seem to be coming out and participating but suffering newer manifestations of patriarchy-Dr. Anamika Priyadarshini

Prof Ray 1

Prof Sunil Ray remarked that while the problem of inequality was stark, it wasn’t at clear how to rectify it without pitfalls. He wondered how the tensions identified by the discussants could be instrumentalized and their outcomes improved.

Dr. Priyadarshini replied that it would have to start by recognizing women’s contributions to the economy and remunerate them. It is also important to think about how most NGOs today work with the government instead of autonomously.

Dr Mohanty

Dr. Aditya Mohanty Assistant Professor of Development Studies, Central University, South Bihar too expressed his concerns at the disappearance of autonomous NGOs as excessive collaboration with the government created a ‘state-organized civil society’, corroding the purpose of civil society.

Dr. Aditya Mohanty noted that the idea of gender mainstreaming loses meaning when interventions are always women-only i.e identifying women as a separate category sometimes further highlights their differences.

He compared the condition of women being considered as victims of patriarchy to them being considered empowered once they sign up for say an SHG to Judith Butler’s distinction between precariousness as an ontological condition of vulnerability and precarity as political mobilization. He said that Kudumbashree could not be easily replicated in other states due to its problems of socialization, particularly in Kerala.

Dr. Aditya suggested that identifying marginalized groups and targeting programmes towards them could help in achieving intersectionality and avoid the patronization of women through the state via programmes like SHGs. Dr. Priyadarshini agreed, commenting that state-led reforms did lead to greater participation but also led to limited, cosmetic changes in many instances.

Dr. Mehta

Dr. Simi Mehta felt that bureaucratic interference was a major obstacle in state-led efforts. She also said that these reforms tended to focus more on fiscal and administrative reforms and neglected how institutions could serve women and address accountability failures.

Dr. Simi Mehta noted that mainstreaming failed most significantly at the operations level.

Concluding Remarks

Dr Thampi

Dr. Thampi reiterated the importance of history, echoing Dr. Priyadarshini. She talked about the functioning of Kudumbashree and said that while she did agree that women contended with new forms of patriarchy, she wasn’t in favor of the idea that they ‘reinvented’ patriarchy. Kudumbashree managed to bring women respectability by making them conduits of welfare transfers.

The income generated through self-employment however was not very high and women did not quite feel the difference between profits and the wages they received before. Dr. Thampi mentioned that in the past 20 years, India saw no change in household work allocation between men and women and this fact showed the limited capability of the state to create social and cultural change. The state could only facilitate these changes.

She disagreed with wages for housework as she felt they would reinforce the division of labour between men and women. Instead, childcare centres could be created so that women could obtain employment and be recognized as a part of the labour force. Men and women have to share household work too.

Dr. Thampi said that the collectivization of women was necessary to demolish the patriarchy and so the women’s movement must be critically responsive to governments.

Prof Sunil Ray thanked the discussants and suggested that from the contradictions, a synthesis was bound to emerge, and it would have to be one based on solidarity across genders.

Acknowledgement: Sonali Pan is a Research Intern at IMPRI.

YouTube Video for Critical Evaluation of Gender Mainstreaming Efforts by the State

Simi Mehta, Sunidhi Agarwal, Ritika Gupta, Anshula Mehta

You must be to comment.

More from IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute

Similar Posts

By Gayathri R

By Sas3 Tranimal

By JYOTI SINGH

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below